I’m very suspicious of the idea that the architect simply does the drawings and then asks the engineers to build it, There’s more to architecture than architecture.
~ Lord Richard Rogers

Integrated Disciplines

The DTS PROJECT HOUSE integrates the expertise and innovations of concentrated disciplines to both meet the technical requirements of the project and make possible the execution of the architectural agenda. Collaboration and interdisciplinary efforts are much stressed among architects, engineers and designers, and are now taken as a matter of faith without questioning. But why is collaboration a good thing and does it produce better architecture? The answers to these questions help shape the form of a beneficial collaborative effort.

The various disciplines that can contribute to a building design are each now specialized to a degree that it is impossible for a single design entity to master them. Each discipline itself requires many areas of expertise to exploit all of the options, opportunities, and possibilities. Science, art, products, construction implementation, codes, and sustainability are all areas of expertise required within each specialized discipline. And each specialized discipline involves cross-disciplinary knowledge such as Landscape Lighting. The design options and product opportunities within each discipline are now so varied and changing at a rate that makes it impossible for an architect to remain aware of all the possibilities without sacrificing the time and energy required to develop and articulate a clear and convincing architectural agenda.

The architect has the opportunity to assemble a group specialists where each person will contribute his own focused knowledge to the project and add to the discussion from a focused perspective. The Owner, artists implementing site specific pieces, and major sub-contractors should also contribute to this discussion. This “discussion” should inspire in both directions with the Architectural Agenda inspiring the practitioner of each discipline and each discipline inspiring the architectural implementation. A specialized knowledge of what is possible in multiple design realms should push the architectural implementation to extremes and innovations, while filtering these multiple design realms through an unambiguous architectural agenda will make these extremes and innovations responsible. The individual disciplines should challenge, support, and help the architect clarify the architectural agenda, but should not alter the agenda. The individual disciplines should alter the architectural implementation, but should not define the vision.

While the practitioner of each discipline practices his discipline with a focused perspective, in the best architecture none of these disciplines is an end in itself, but its value is determined by how it contributes to the implementation of the architectural agenda. It is imperative that the architect provide a strong and clear architectural agenda to evaluate the input and efforts of the various design disciplines and voices so that there is an integrated architectural whole and none of the individual disciplines express themselves as an end in themselves. The best collaborations produce a building where all individual design disciplines are so integrated and support a singular vision that when experiencing the architecture one does not think of dividing the implementation into individual efforts. It is ironic that this integration is often best achieved by exploiting the most specialized aspects of each discipline.

In the DTS Project House Sustainability, Structural Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Lighting Design, Pool / Spa Design, Low Voltage Design. Acoustical Design, and Civil Engineering are all integrated disciplines. Landscape Design and Interior Design are often accomplished by a separate practitioner, but in the DTS Project House they are seen as so integral to the architecture, mills studio is responsible for their implementation.

The particular consultants for the DTS Project House were chosen for their ability to integrate the science, art, and business of their disciplines with the architectural agenda, with business including both the ability to provide adequate design documentation for permitting and construction and a sufficient knowledge of construction to implement the design in the field. It was important to chose consultants grounded in science and technical expertise, as the more grounded in the science the better the ability to innovate responsibly and creatively. Practicing in the specific project locale was important for certain disciplines, but technology makes this not important for other disciplines. LEED credentials was a specific factor in the choice of consultants as was an ability to look at both initial costs and lifecycle costs.

mills studio will judge successful its collaborative efforts if the architectural agenda is clearly implemented, and the traces of individual efforts are so integrated that all distinctions among design disciplines dissolve into a singular vision.

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